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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Romans 8

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. VIII.

They that are in Christ, and live according to the Spirit, are free from condemnation. What harm cometh of the flesh, and what good of the Spirit, and what of being God's children.

Anno Domini 58.

IN farther answer to the objection mentioned chap. Romans 3:31 the Apostle, in this chapter, with great feeling and energy, displays the many powerfulmotives which the doctrines of the Gospel, explained in the preceding chapters, suggest for engaging both the understanding and the affections of believers, to a continued pursuit of holiness.

The first motive which he mentions is, That under the new covenant, there is no condemnation to believers, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, Romans 8:1.—This greater of all considerations the Apostle begins with, after having pathetically described the terror of the awakened sinner, arising from his consciousness of guilt, because, if mercy were not with God, he could never be loved nor obeyed by men.

The second motive is, That under the new covenant, sufficient assistance being given to all, to free them from the law of sin and death, they cannot excuse their evil actions bypleading the strength of their sinful passions, Romans 8:2.—This deliverance from the law of sin and death, God has accomplished by sending his Son in the flesh, to die as a sin-offering, to procure pardon for sinners, and to destroy the power of sin in their flesh by his word and Spirit, that they may attain the righteousness which the law of faith, the new covenant, requires, Romans 8:4.—And, to shew the nature and extent of that righteousness, the Apostle explains what it is to walk after the flesh, and what to walk after the Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The third motive to holiness is, That, according to the new covenant, all who live a wicked sensual life, shall die eternally; but every one who lives in a holy spiritual manner shall be rewarded with life eternal, Romans 8:6-8.

The fourth motive is, That the Spirit of God dwells with believers, whereby the lusts of their body are mortified, and their rational powers are habitually strengthened, Romans 8:10.—And even the animal part of their nature, after being subdued, is made subservient to righteousness, by the indwelling of the same Spirit, Romans 8:11.—Such being the effects of the gracious assistances promised in the Gospel, no person under the new covenant is irresistibly forced, either by the corruptions of his nature, or by outward temptations, to live according to the flesh, Romans 8:12.;—and therefore God has justly decreed, that all who live according to the flesh, shall die eternally, Romans 8:13.—This declaration concerning future retributions under the new covenant, the Apostle had made before, Romans 8:6.; but he repeats it here, to shew that, although the curse of the law, in so far as it allows no mercy to the penitent sinner, does not take place under the new covenant, men's obligations to holiness are not weakened. The sanctions of law are stillcontinued under the Gospel, but in a different form, and with a more happy efficacy.—Farther to correct the error of the Jews, who contended that no Gentile could obtain eternal life, who did not obey the law of Moses, and to comfort the believing Gentiles, whom the Jews thus excluded from the favour of God, the Apostle declared, that, according to the tenor of the new covenant, all who are led by the Spirit of God to mortify the deeds of the body, are the sons of God, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. And, to shew the excellent disposition of the sons of God, he observes that, notwithstanding under the new covenant the severest punishment is threatened against sinners, the sons of God do not obey him from that slavish fear of punishment which was bred in the minds of the Jews by the curse of the law, but from the filial dispositions of gratitude and love to their Father, Romans 8:15.—This excellent temper the Apostle terms the witness of our spirit that we are children of God, and observes, that the Spirit of God also confirms that witness.

Havingthus shewn, that all who obey God sincerely from a principle of faith, are his sons, the Apostle, as the fifth motive to holiness furnished by the Gospel, gives a particular account of the honours, privileges, and possessions of the sons of God. They are heirs of God. And to shew what an heir of God is, he adds, and joint-heirs with Christ; so that the whole felicity of that immortal life, which Christ now enjoys in the human nature, really belongs to the other sons of Godin their measure, whether they be Jews or Gentiles; and they shall be put in possession thereof, if, when called to it, they suffer, as Christ did, for righteousness' sake, Romans 8:17. This remark, concerningsuffering, the Apostle introduced, to teach the Romans, that their being the sons of God would not secure them against, but rather expose them to sufferings. And to prevent the Jews, who considered prosperity as a token of God's favour, from being scandalized at the Gospel, on account of the sufferings which accompanied it, and even to encourage them to suffer, he observed that that glorious resurrection, by which the sons of God are to be distinguished, is a blessing so great, that the pious Gentiles supported the miseries of life, by earnestly looking for it, Romans 8:18-19.—Nor was their expectation without foundation, inasmuch as not for their own sin, but for the sin of the first man, the human race was subjected to death by God, Romans 8:20.—in the firm resolution that he would deliver all mankind from the grave, through the obedience of Christ, Romans 8:21.—By insinuating that the expectation which the Gentiles entertained of a future life in the body, was derived from God's resolution to raise all mankind from the dead, the Apostle, I suppose, meant God's resolution made known at the fall, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. For that promise,beinginsomeeffectivesensepreserved among the Gentiles by tradition, was the foundation of the hope which many of them, in different parts of the world, entertained of the resurrection of the body, and of a future state.—Then, by a beautifulrhetoricalfigure,theApostleintroducesthewholeGentileworldassuffering extreme pain under the miseries of life, and earnestly wishing for deliverance, Romans 8:22.—Believers also groan within themselves, while they wait for the redemption of their body from the bondage of corruption, Romans 8:23.—But they wait patiently, and thereby shew the strength of their faith, Romans 8:24-25.—And to this exercise of patience they are helped by the Spirit of God, who produces in them such a disposition of the mind, as is an effectual complaint to God, Romans 8:26.—and, being wrought in them by the Spirit, is justly termed the Spirit's complaining for the saints, Romans 8:27. The sixth motive to holiness, furnished by the discoveries made in the Gospel, is this: God having determined to save persevering believers, they know that every providence, whether prosperous or adverse, shall work together for that end. The reason is, God has called or denominated believers the seed of Abraham, and the sons of God, 1 John 3:1 and heirs of immortality, Romans 8:28.—And whom he foreknew that they would be his sons,—that they would yield to be saved by grace, them he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son Christ, both in their body and mind, Romans 8:29.—Moreover, whom he predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, them he also called or denominated the seed of Abraham, and gave them a right to all the blessings promised to Abraham's seed; and whom he so called, them he also justified, Romans 8:30.—And having thus described the salvation of the faithful saints of God, in its origin, its intermediate steps, and its issue, the Apostle, strongly impressed with his subject, asks, What shall we say to these things? Since God is for us believing Jews and Gentiles, no person can hinder our being accounted the seed of Abraham, and the sons of God, Romans 8:31.—For he who delivered his own Son to death for us all, for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews, will with him also freely give us all the blessings promised to the seed of Abraham, that is, to all the faithful sons of God, Romans 8:32.—Then, as enraptured with the view which he had taken of those grand subjects, and to shew that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, he cries out, Who shall dare to bring any accusation against God's elect,—against his faithful people,—since God has declared that he will justify such by faith? Romans 8:33.—Who is he that will pretend to condemn them, since Christ hath died to procure theirpardon, and now governs the world for their benefit, and makes intercession with the Father in their behalf? Romans 8:34.—Then personating the whole body of the faithful, stronglyaffected with the goodness of God shewn in their salvation, and highly elated with the view of their privileges so unanswerably established, he, in their name, professes their firm resolution of adhering to the Gospel, that they may continue the objects of Christ's love, however many or strong the temptations may be with which they are assaulted, Romans 8:35 to the end of the chapter.

The latter part of this chapter, beginning at Romans 8:31 if compared with the most shining passages of the so much admired writings of the Greeks and Romans, will be found not inferior to any of them in sublimity of thought, variety of figures, and beauty of language. It contains a description, in most forcible and glowing expressions, of the privileges, the hopes, and the temper of a true Christian; and shews what magnanimity and what greatness of sentiment the Gospel is able to infuse into them who understand and believe its doctrines. It is therefore a most proper conclusion of a discourse, in which, by the strongest reasoning, practices are recommended, which ennoble the human mind, yield the greatest and the most permanent joys, and prepare men for becoming the companions of angels, and for living with God himself through all eternity.

On reviewing the encouragements to holiness proposed by the Apostle in this and the three foregoing chapters, the reader must be sensible that the scheme of salvation revealed in the Gospel suggests motives to persuade men to forsake sin and follow holiness, and even to suffer for well-doing, more in number and of infinitely greater efficacy than any preacher either of the law of nature (which can do nothing but condemn) or of Moses ever proposed, or indeed had it in his power to propose. And therefore the calumny of the Jewish scribes and heathen philosophers, mentioned chap. Romans 3:31 that by teaching the justification of sinners, through faith without works of law, the Apostles of Christ made void the obligations of morality, and encouraged men to sin, was altogether without foundation. That doctrine, instead of weakening the obligation of law, strengthens it in the highest degree.—Farther, because in the chapters above mentioned, the Apostle has shewn that God's counting men's faith to them for righteousness, on account of the death of his Son, furnishes such a variety of powerful motives for persuading sinners to repent and return to God, these chapters do in effect demonstrate the natural efficacy of the death of Christ, in delivering believers from the power of sin. Whence it follows, that the Gospel method of pardoning sinners through the death of Christ, is an exercise of mercy, which, instead of weakening, has greatly strengthened the authority of the law of God; consequently, it is perfectly suitable to his character, and subservient to the ends of his moral government. The efficacy, therefore, of Christ's death, in delivering us from the power of sin, being thus evident, we cannot doubt of its efficacy, as an atonement in delivering us from the punishment of sin, notwithstanding we are in some measure ignorant of the manner in which it operates for that end.


Verse 1

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now Αρα νυν . The word Αρα here, is not illative, but strongly affirmative;—nempe utique, certainly, verily; (see Matthew 12:28. Luke 11:48; Luke 18:8 in the original). Now, is "under the Gospel." This carries our thoughts back to Romans 8:6 of the foregoing chapter; which verse the Apostle comments upon in the eleven first verses of this chapter; and these verses shew the Christian Jew how he is obliged under the Gospel to sanctity of life, and correspond to the first eleven verses of the sixth chapter, where he shews the same thing to the Gentile Christian. Πνευμα, Spirit, certainly is not used in the same sense throughout this chapter. In Romans 8:10; Romans 8:16 it signifies the spirit of our mind (as Acts 7:59; Acts 17:16; Acts 18:5; Acts 18:25. Romans 1:9; Romans 12:11. Galatians 5:17.); the supreme part of our constitution, or the principle of reason, by which we discern, approve, and choose the truth; and thus it answers to νους, mind, in the foregoing chapter, Romans 8:25. But in Romans 8:9; Romans 8:11; Romans 8:16; Romans 8:26-27 it signifies that heavenly Person, whom we call the Holy Ghost, given to the Apostles and others in his miraculous power, and sent to enlighten and sanctify all those who submit to the righteousness of God which is by faith, and desire to live soberly, righteously, and godly. The verse before us may be paraphrased thus: "Under the weak and lifeless dispensation of the law, the sinner remains, as we have shewn above, in a deplorable state, without help or hope, enslaved to sin, and sentenced to death. Butnow, under the Gospel, the most encouraging hopes smile upon us, and we have the highest assurance that all genuine believers, notwithstanding former transgressions, are quite discharged from the penalty of the law, and disengaged from the servitude of sin; and will so continue, if so be they make that faith a principle of obedience, and do not choose to live in wickedness, according to the instigation of fleshlyappetite; but in truth and holiness, according to the dictates of the inward man," &c. See Locke, and Bengelius.


Verse 2

Romans 8:2. For the law of the Spirit of life That it is the Spirit of life and grace,—the Spirit of Christ,—who delivers from the law in the members, that law of death, is evident from chap. Romans 7:23-25. Why it is called a law, may be found in the antithesis to the law of sin and death; grace being as certain a law to give life to Christians, who live not after the flesh, as the influence of sinful appetites is to bring death on those who are not under grace. The reason why it is called the law of the Spirit of life is, that the Gospel which contains this doctrine of grace is dictated by the same Spirit that raised up Christ from the dead; that quickens us to newness of life, and has for its end the conferring of eternal life. By the law of sin and death is meant, that which he calls the law in his members, chap. Romans 7:23 where it is termed the law of sin; and Romans 8:24 the body of death, from which grace delivers. This is certain, that no one who considers what St. Paul has said, Romans 8:7; Romans 8:13 of the foregoing chapter, can think that he can call the law of Moses the law of sin, or the law of death. See Locke.


Verse 3

Romans 8:3. For what the law could not do, &c.— For this the law not being able to effect, &c. The weakness, and as he there also calls it, the unprofitableness of the law, is again taken notice of by the Apostle, Hebrews 7:18-19. There were two defects in the law, whereby it became in this limited sense unprofitable, so as to make nothing perfect; (for it is profitable to drive us to Christ;) the one was its inflexible rigour, against which it provided no allay, or mitigation. It left no place for atonement; the least slip was mortal; death was the inevitablepunishment of transgression, by the sentence of the law. St. Paul's Epistles are full of this; and he shews, Hebrews 10:5; Hebrews 10:10 how we are delivered from it by the body of Christ. The other weakness or defect of the law was, that it could not enable those who were under it to get the mastery over their flesh, or carnal propensities: the law exacted complete obedience, but afforded men no help against their vicious inclinations. St. Paul shews here how believers are delivered from this dominion of sin in their mortal bodies, by the Spirit of Christ enabling them; upon their sincere endeavours after righteousness, to keep sin under in their mortal bodies; in conformity to Christ, in whose flesh it was condemned, executed, and perfectly extinct, having never indeed had there any life or being,—as we shall observe more fully by-and-by. The provision made in the new covenant against both these defects of the law, is in the Epistle to the Hebrews expressed thus: First, he will write his law in their hearts; because, secondly, he will be merciful to their iniquities; Hebrews 8:7-12. And for sin, περι αμαρτιας, signifies an offering for sin. See 2 Corinthians 5:21. Hebrews 10:5-10. So that the plain import is, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,—[like unto our frail sinful flesh in all things except sin, Hebrews 4:15.],—and sending him to be an offering for sin, hath condemned sin," &c. Thus the manner and end of his sending are joined. The prosopopoeia whereby sin was considered as a person through the foregoing chapter being continued here, the condemning of sin in the flesh, cannot mean, as some would have it, that Christ was condemned for sin, or in the place of sin; for that would be to save sin, and leave that alive which Christ came to destroy. But the plain meaning is, that sin itself was condemned, or put to death, in his flesh; that is, was suffered to have no life or being in the flesh of our Saviour: he was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. This farther appears to be the sense by the following words. The antithesis between condemnation, Romans 8:1 and condemned here, will also shew why that word is used to express the death or non-existence of sin in our Saviour; 1 Peter 2:22. That St. Paul sometimes uses condemnation for putting to death, see chap. Romans 5:16-18. To what has been advanced in this note, it may be urged, "Had not the Jews, before Christ came, the assistances of the Spirit, and sufficient means and motives to deliver them from the power of sin?" To which we reply, certainly they had, as appears particularly from the Psalms and prophetic writings; yea all mankind, since the promise, Genesis 3:15 in all ages and parts of the world, have been, and still are, under grace; grace founded upon the redemption which is in Christ; and therefore always had, and still have, the benefit of divine assistance, however they might have neglected or abused it. But the Apostle is here considering the assistances enjoyed, under the then newly-erected dispensation of the Gospel, (which in means and motives far exceeds all others,) and with particular regard to the Jew; and upon a comparison with the law, in which he rested for every thing, to shew the infinite preference of the Gospel to mere law;—as appears from the foregoing chapter: where he at large shews the Jew the insufficiency of mere law, or a rule of duty, to deliver a man from sin and corruption; though the instructions here given to the Jew concerning the superior advantages of the Gospel for sanctification, would be of use to the Gentile convert; as his discourse to the Gentile, chap. 6: concerning our obligation to holiness, would be of service to the Jew, so far as either should need instruction upon those heads. See Locke and Whitby.


Verse 4

Romans 8:4. That the righteousness of the law, &c.— Δικαιωμα, righteousness, here seems to be used in the most extensive sense, and may signify both moral righteousness, and the consequence of it, salvation, (see chap. Romans 5:16 in the original). The Gospel frees those from sin who choose to be free, which was more than the law could do. Law neither grants pardon, nor supplies help: but yet the Gospel does not free those from sin, who wickedly choose to remain under the dominion of it; for a willing slave, determined to continue in servitude, who can free? The Apostle demonstrates, in the four next verses, that under any dispensation, such as continue impenitently in a sensual life, must perish; and he insists so particularly upon this, probably either to prevent a mistake,—for some might be so weak as to imagine, that a mere profession of Christianity would secure them from the power of sin;—or to obviate an objection which the Jew might be ready to make. He might allege; "But there are wicked men under the Gospel, as well as under the law." The Apostle answers, "Men who choose to continue under the power of sin and lust, according to the true nature of things, must perish under every dispensation. God provides proper means under the Gospel to deliver them from a wicked life, and to bring them to true holiness; but he cannot, consistently with his perfections, either force them tobe holy, or love them if they are wicked." As Christ in the flesh was wholly exempt from all taint of sin, so we, by that Spirit who was in him, shall be exempt from the dominion of our carnal lusts, if we make it our choice and endeavour to live after the Spirit, Romans 8:9-11. For one thing which we are to perform by that Spirit, is the mortification of the body. See Romans 8:13. Galatians 5:16-26. Locke, and Peters on Job, p. 281.


Verse 6

Romans 8:6. For to be carnally-minded is death For joins what follows to Romans 8:1 as the reason of what is here laid down; namely, that deliverance from condemnation is experienced only by such Christian converts, as walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit:—for, &c. See Locke.


Verse 7

Romans 8:7. The carnal mind Φρονημα της σαρκος should have been translated here to be carnally-minded, as it is in the foregoing verse; which is justified by φρονουσι τα της σαρκος, do mind the things of the flesh, Romans 8:5 which signifies the employing the bent of their minds, or subjecting their mind entirely to the fulfilling the lusts of the flesh: see 1 Corinthians 2:14. The Apostle, in the next clause, gives the reason why even those who have received the Gospel,—for to such he is here speaking,—are not saved unless they cease to walk after the flesh; because that runs directly counter to the law of God, and can never be brought into conformity and subjection to his commands. Such a settled contradiction to his precepts cannot be suffered by the supreme Lord and Governor of the world in any of his creatures, without foregoing his sovereignty, and giving up the eternal immutable rule of right, to the subverting the very foundations of all order and moral rectitude in the intellectual world. This, even in the judgment of men themselves, will be always thought a necessarypiece of justice for the keeping out of anarchy, disorder, andconfusion; that those refractory subjects, who set up their own inclinations for their rule against the law, which was made to restrain those very inclinations, should feel the severity of the law, without which the authority of the law and the law-maker cannot be preserved. See Locke.


Verse 8

Romans 8:8. So then they that are in the flesh, &c.— This is the conclusion drawn from what went before; and in the flesh here, must mean the same as to be carnally-minded, &c. above;—to be under the government of sensual appetites. See Galatians 4:3-6.


Verse 9

Romans 8:9. But ye are not in the flesh, &c.— The word Ειπερ, rendered if so be, may here stand for the word επειδηπερ, as it does 2 Thessalonians 1:6. Have, in the last clause, is emphatical, and signifies to retain, to fix in the mind as a principle,—duly to improve. Compare 1 John 5:12. 2 John 1:9.


Verse 10-11

Romans 8:10-11. And if Christ be in you And if Christ, &c.—with respect to sin,—with respect to righteousness. In these verses the Apostle describes the happy advantages of those who embrace the faith of the Gospel, and live according to it. The phrase δι αμαρτιαν may be properly rendered in respect of, or with reference to sin. This determines what sort of death he is speaking of, namely, a moral death; as if he had said, "The body, or the members thereof, are mortified, as the power of lust is destroyed." Shall quicken your mortal bodies, Romans 8:11 means, "shall raise them to eternal life." The glorified saints are the sons of the resurrection, Luke 20:36 as it introduces them into eternal life. It seems to me clear that this refers to the resurrection of the faithful saints of God at the last day, for these reasons: First, Because the resurrection of Christ is twice mentioned in this verse, as a pledge of their being made to live. Secondly, Because their being made to live is assigned to God as his act, on account of their being faithfully under the government of his Holy Spirit. If the Spirit of God dwell, or govern, in you, God will quicken your mortal bodies, on account, or by the agency, of his Spirit, that dwelleth in you. And therefore, the quickening of our mortal bodies, or making them to live, cannot mean (as Mr. Locke supposes in his long note upon this verse) our being quickened to newness of life, or to a spiritual life of righteousness; which life it pre-supposes, and which the Apostle has spoken of in the foregoing verse. The revival or resurrection of the body is frequently put for our advancement to eternal life. See Doddridge. Mr. Locke would read, Shall quicken even your mortal bodies; and though the foregoing interpretation of this verse is in my judgment the true one, yet it seems but justice to the reader, and to that learned commentator, to subjoin what he has advanced in defence of a different exposition: "To lead us," says he, "into the true sense of this 11th verse, we need only observe, that St. Paul having in the four first chapters of this Epistle shewn that neither Jew nor Gentile could be justified by the law; and in the 5th chapter, how sin entered into the world by Adam, and reigned by death, from which it was grace, and not the law, that delivered men; in the 6th chapter he sheweth the convert Gentiles, that though they were not under the law, but under grace, yet they could not be saved, unless they cast off the dominion of sin, and became the devoted servants of righteousness, which was what their very baptism taught and required of them. And in chap. 7: he declares to the Jews the weakness of the law, which they so much stood upon; and shews that the law could not deliver them from the dominion of sin; that deliverance was only by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ: from whence he draws the consequence which begins this 8th chapter, and so goes on with it here in two branches, relating to his discourse in the foregoing chapter, which complete it in this. The one is to shew, that the law of the spirit of life, that is to say, the new covenant in the Gospel, required that those that are in Christ Jesus should live not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The other is to shew how, and by whom,—since the law was weak, and could not enable those under the law to do it,—they are enabled to keep sin from reigning in their mortal bodies. And here he shews, that Christians are delivered from the dominion of their carnal sinful lusts by the Spirit of God that is given to them, and dwells in them, as a new quickening principle and power, by which they are put into the state of a spiritual life, wherein their members are made capable of being the instruments of righteousness; if they please, as living men alive now to righteousness, so to employ them. If this be not the sense of this chapter to Romans 8:14. I desire to know how αρα ουν, in the first place, comes in, and what coherence there is in what is here said. Besides the connection of this to the former chapter, contained in the illative therefore, the very antithesis of the expressions in one and the other, shews that St. Paul, in writing this very verse, had an eye to the foregoing chapter. There it was sin that dwelleth in me, which was the active and over-ruling principle: here it is the Spirit of God that dwelleth in you, which is the principle of spiritual life. There it was, Who shall deliver me from this body of death? Here it is, God by his Spirit shall quicken your mortal bodies; that is to say, bodies which, as the seat and harbour of sinful lusts that possess them, are indisposed or dead to the actions of a spiritual life, and have a natural tendency to death. In the same sense, and upon the same account, he calls the bodies of the Gentiles their mortal bodies, chap. Romans 6:12 where his subject is, as here, freedom from the reign of sin; upon which account they are there styled, Romans 8:13 alive from the dead. To make it yet clearer that it is deliverance from the reign of sin in our bodies, that St. Paul speaks of here, I desire any one to read what he says, chap. Romans 6:1-14 to the Gentiles on the same subject, and compare it with the thirteen first verses of this chapter; and then tell me, whether they have not a mutual correspondence, and do not give a great light to one another? If this be too much pains, let him at least read the two next verses, and see how they could possibly be, as they are, an inference from this 11th verse, if the quickening of your mortal bodies in it mean any thing, but a quickening to newness of life, or to a spiritual life of righteousness. One thing more the text suggests concerning this matter, and that is, if by quickening your mortal bodies, &c. be meant here, the raising them into life after death, how can this be mentioned as a peculiar favour to those who have the Spirit of God? For God will also raise the bodies of the wicked, and as certainly as those of believers. But that which is promised here is promised to those only who have the Spirit of God: and therefore it must be something peculiarto them, viz. that God shall so enliven their mortal bodies by his Spirit, which is the principle and pledge of immortal life, that they may be able to yield up themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members servants to righteousness unto holiness; as he expresses himself, chap. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:19. The full explication of this verse may be seen, Ephesians 1:19 and Romans 2:4-6; Romans 2:10. Compare also Colossians 2:12-13 to the same purpose, and Romans 7:4.

Ζωοποιησει και, shall quicken even your mortal bodies, seems more agreeable to the original, than shall also quicken your mortal bodies."


Verse 12

Romans 8:12. Therefore, brethren, &c.— After the Apostle has separately and distinctly shewn how the affair ofsanctification or obligation to piety and holiness stands under the Gospel, both with regard to Jews and Gentiles, he seems here to address himself to both conjointly. And, I. He draws the general conclusion from all his arguments upon this subject, Romans 8:12 where the phrase αρα ουν, appears to be the grand inference from all that he has been arguing, in relation to sanctity of life. II. He shews the ground on which they may hope for eternal life, Romans 8:14-17. III. And whereas the affair of suffering persecution was a great stumbling-block to the Jew, and might very much discourage the Gentile, he introduces it to the best advantage, Romans 8:17 and advances several arguments to fortify their minds under all trials; as, First, that they suffered with Christ: Secondly, in order to be crucified with him, in a manner which willinfinitelycompensateanypresentsufferings, ver.17,18.Thirdly,Allmankind are under various pressures, longing for a better state, Romans 8:19-22. Fourthly, The most eminent Christians, distinguished by the choicest gifts of heaven, were in the same distressed condition, Romans 8:23. Fifthly, According to the plan of the Gospel, we are to be saved after a course of patience, exercised in a variety of trials, Romans 8:24-25. Sixthly, The Spirit of God will supply patience to every upright soul under persecution and suffering: which will put them into a state highly pleasing to God, Romans 8:26-27. Seventhly, All things, even the severest trials, shall operate together to accomplish the salvation of those who love God, Romans 8:28. This he proves by giving us a view of the several steps which the wisdom and goodness of God have settled, in order to perfect the salvation of the faithful, Romans 8:29-30. Hence, IV. He concludes from the whole of his preceding arguments, that, as we are brought into a state of pardon by the free grace of God, founded upon the death of Christ, who is now our glorious Agent and Intercessor in heaven, no possible cause,—supposing we perseveringly love God, (for to such only the Apostle's observations are applicable,)—will be able to pervert our minds; Romans 8:31 to the end.


Verse 13

Romans 8:13. Ye shall die ΄ελλετε αποθνησκειν, ye shall die hereafter; namely, the second death at the last day. The wicked Christian professor is nigh unto the curse; whose end is, to be burned. See Hebrews 6:8.


Verse 14

Romans 8:14. They are the sons of God Isaac, by his super-natural birth, being in a peculiar manner the son of God,the Israelites his children were called by God himself his son, Exodus 4:22. But they were God's son only in an inferior sense: for by that relation they were entitled to nothing but the earthly inheritance. Whereas believers are in a higher sense the sons of God. Being spiritually begotten of God, they partake of his nature, are heirs of the heavenly country, and, if faithful unto death, by the redemption of their body may become immortal like God—they are capable of enjoying the everlasting inheritance. Perhaps also the high title of the sons of God is given to believers, to convey an affecting idea of their dignity and felicity; because, of all the things in which worldly men glory, noble birth is the chief.


Verse 15

Romans 8:15. The spirit of bondage What this is, the Apostle has plainly declared, Hebrews 2:15. Again, means, "Now again, under Christ; as the Jews did from Moses under the law." The word abba signifies father in the Jewish language, and the insertion of it beautifully represents the union of Jewish and Christian believers, in thosedevotionswhichwere dictated by a filial spirit, as well as the genuine experience of a child of God. See Locke, Doddridge, and Evans's Christian Temper, vol. 1: serm. 17, 18.


Verse 16

Romans 8:16. The Spirit itself beareth witness, &c.— It may be proper to inquire, on this much controverted verse, 1st, How many and who are the witnesses here spoken of? and 2nd, What is the kind of evidence given by them? I. Συμμαρτυρει, rendered bearing witness with, signifies to be a fellow-witness, or to witness the same thing that another doth. This is the constant meaning of the word in Scripture, nor is it ever used but where there is a concurrent evidence of two witnesses (see chap. Romans 2:15, Romans 9:1. Revelation 22:16.). There can be no reason given therefore why it should not be taken in the same sense here, and rendered the Spirit beareth witness with, or together with, our spirit. Here then are two witnesses, and who they are we must next inquire. Who the first Spirit is, must be learnt from what goes before. In Romans 8:2 we read of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which hath made us free from the law of sin and of death. In Romans 8:9 he is called, the Spirit of God and of Christ. In Romans 8:11 the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead. In Romans 8:15 the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.—In the present verse, reference is had to this Spirit:—"The Spirit itself; that is, the Spirit which has made us free in Christ Jesus,—the Spirit by whom we have received adoption, does himself bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." But then the question is, whether spirit in all these places be the name of a person, or whether it denotes only a quality or temper belonging to Christians; so that the Spirit of Christ shall signify no more than the mind of Christ does, Philippians 2:5.; that is, the same temper and disposition. This sense Crellius maintains, and others after him, explaining the passage thus: "Our evangelical spirit (that is, as he explains himself in another place,—our evangelical temper) is a sufficient argument to our own minds, that we are the children of God." To dispute this point with Crellius, and his brethren the Socinians, would be to run into a great controversy. But since the Spirit of Christ may and does signify both senses, it may be proper to point out, to such as have no private prejudices to be maintained, which sense is here to be followed. First, then, this Spirit is the Spirit of life, by which we are made free; that is, by which we are regenerated in Christ Jesus, and set at liberty from the heavy yoke of sin, which the Apostle had been describing in the foregoing chapter. Now an evangelical temper is not the cause, but the consequent of this freedom: the Spirit of God is the efficient cause, of whom we are said for that reason to be born. Secondly, It is the Spirit of him who raised up Christ; that is to say, the Spirit by which he wrought that great wonder and miracle, as is evident by taking the whole 11th verse together:—the Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead, is the Spirit by which he so raised him, that is, the Holy Spirit, mighty in works and wonders. Lastly, It is the Spirit of adoption, by which we are made sons. The Spirit of adoption is the Spirit of which we are born in Christ; of which birth an evangelical temper is not the cause, but the effect. So that by the whole tenor of the Apostle's arguing it must appear most evidently to every candid mind, that the Spirit which beareth witness with our spirit is the Holy Spirit of God, who works together with our spirit, to enable us to perform the will of God.—As to the second witness,—our own spirit,—it needs not much time to shew what it is, since most are agreed that is our own mind. Who knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? that is, save his mind and conscience? Thus then the faithful Christian has two witnesses of his being the son of God;—the Holy Spirit of God, and his own mind and conscience.

II. Let us therefore see, in the next place, what evidence each of them gives in this case. In order to this, we must look back to the latter part of the former chapter, to which the present verse relates. Our crying, Abba, Father, Romans 8:15 is very improperly pitched upon by some as the evidence proceeding from our own mind, since it is said expressly, that we so cry, by the spirit of adoption; so that our crying, Abba, Father, is an evidence coming not from our minds but from the Holy Spirit.—The evidence of our own spirit is, that it loves and delights in the law of God, and is restless to obey the law it loves. The Apostle's words, chap. Romans 7:25 are strong to this purpose; With the mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin;—words which we should bear in memory while we are considering the evidence of the Spirit of God. In the present chapter St. Paul tells us, that the redemption by Christ Jesus has put an end to the wretched captivity under which we lived. The law of the Spirit, &c. see Romans 8:2. Law here signifies power, for power is a law to those who live under it: now then, the power of the Spirit has destroyed the power of sin. The power of sin was opposite to the mind and reason of man, so that man, while he lived under that power, was a slave; but the power of the Spirit is on reason's side, and works together with it; so that to be under this power is a state of liberty and freedom, and therefore it is justly said, that the law of the Spirit of life hath made free. The consequence of our being under the power of the Spirit is, that we walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, Romans 8:4.; that we mind the things of the Spirit, Romans 8:5.; that we mortify the deeds of the body, Romans 8:13.; that we are the sons of God, Romans 8:14.; that we cry, Abba, Father! Romans 8:15. These are the fruits of the Spirit. Now, to walk after the Spirit, and to do the deeds of the Spirit, is to walk according to our own mind and reason; for reason approves the things of God, and the things of the Spirit are the things of God. To cry, Abba, Father, proceeds from a settled and undisturbed mind,—from filial duty and reverence. This therefore we owe to the Spirit; for before, however our minds consented to his laws, yet still we were sinners, and conscience stood between us and our Father; so that we could not approach without fear and trembling, our minds still representing him to us rather as an injured Lord, than as a tender Father. But since the power of the Spirit has stilled the horrid contest that was within us between reason and sin, and that we both love and obey him,—we now no longer fear his presence; but like children longing for the return of a kind Father, we run out to embrace him, with words of friendship and affection in our mouths, crying, Abba, Father.—With the mind, he had said before, I serve the law of God, chap. Romans 7:25. "And now," says he, "by the same Spirit you obey the same law; and the Spirit of God, and your spirit, agree to give you the utmost assurance of being the children of God. Youare no longer in the sad condition before described; the mind leaning one way, and the flesh another; so that you desired to do one thing, yet did the contrary, and was always restless and uneasy; rebuked within, and constrained without: for the Spirit by which you are now ruled, consents to your mind, and is bent to perform the same things which the mind approves; whence you may have the greatest confidence towards God: for what plainer signs can you have of a good son and servant, than to know that he loves the law of his Father, and obeys it? Love the law, indeed, you did before in your awakened state; but obey it you could not: but now by the Spirit you obey it, and have the greatest satisfaction, both from within and without, that you are the children of God."This may suffice to shew the Apostle's meaning, and to explain "the nature of the evidence which each Spirit gives." See Bishop Sherlocke, Archbishop Sharpe, the Inferences, and the REFLECTIONS.


Verse 17

Romans 8:17. If so be that we suffer, &c.— Observe how prudently the Apostle advances to the harsh affair of suffering; he does not mention it, till he had raised their thoughts to the higher object of joy and pleasure;—the happiness and glory of a joint-inheritance with the ever-blessed Son of God:—we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if we suffer with him, &c. This, with the additional consideration that we suffer with Christ, or as he himself suffered, and that our suffering patiently is the way to be glorified with him, would greatly qualify the transitory afflictions of this world, and dispose them to attend to the other arguments that he had to offer. See 2 Timothy 2:11-12 and Locke.


Verse 18

Romans 8:18. Revealed St. Paul speaks of this glory here as what needs to be revealed, to give us a right conception of it. It is impossible to have a clear and full comprehension of it, till we taste it.


Verses 19-23

Romans 8:19-23.— I must think, that it was quite to the Apostle's purpose in this place to point at the common calamities of mankind. Christians ought not to be uneasy if they are exposed to sufferings on account of religion; for this world is a state of suffering and distress, and all mankind are groaning under various pressures. That the Apostle in these verses does not mean only the Christian world or creation, seems evident; because first, that even the creature itself, or even the very creature shall be delivered, Romans 8:21 plainly points at something different from the body of Christians. Secondly, the children of God are distinguished from the creature, or the creation, Romans 8:21 but the children of God are real Christians, Romans 8:16 therefore the creature cannot mean real Christians. Thirdly, he says Romans 8:20 that the creature was made subject to vanity, not wilfully, but through him who hath subjected the same in hope. Now we know of no other subjecting the creature to vanity, than that Genesis 3:19 which includes all mankind. Fourthly, Πασα η κτισις, (Romans 8:22.) the whole creation, must surely comprehend all mankind, as it does Mark 16:15. Colossians 1:23 and that we have no sufficient ground to extend it farther than mankind,—namely, to the brute creation,—will appear, if we consider, first, that the same phrase is used to signify all mankind in the two places just referred to; secondly, no creature in this world, but man, could be subject to vanity, wilfully or not wilfully; thirdly, whether we understand the 23rd verse of Christians in general, or of the Apostles only, we cannot well suppose that St. Paul would bring either into a comparison with brutes;—and not only they, but we also, &c. We may properly render κτισις throughout this passage by creation, as it is Romans 8:22. ' Αποκαραδοκια, rendered earnest expectation, signifies a solicitous, anxious waiting for a thing, and so includes a vehement desire. But it may be asked, How can all mankind desire and wait for the revelation of the sons of God, or the glory that shall be revealed in them, when but a small part of mankind know any thing of it? To this it may be answered, We know, as the Apostle observes, Romans 8:22 that all mankind do groan under the afflictions and pressures of this present world, sensible of its imperfection and vanity, and consequently must desire something better; and although they may not know what that better thing is, yet the Apostle knew it. And he speaks according to his own knowledge, and not theirs. He affirms of his own knowledge, what their expectation would issue in: their earnest waiting was in fact, however they might be ignorant of it, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God: and he proves this, Romans 8:20-21 as supposing the Christians to whom he wrote might be ignorant of it. Which shews that when he affirms that the earnest desires of mankind, after a release from the sufferings of this life, are a waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, he speaks, not of what heathens, or even Christians, understood or believed, but of what he himself knew and believed to be true. Dr. Whitby upon this place justly observes, that in the sacred dialect, desire and expectation are ascribed to creatures, in reference to things that they want, and which tend to their advantage, though they explicitly knew nothing of them. Thus the Messiah, before he came, is called, The desire of all nations, Haggai 2:7. Mr. Locke remarks, that ' Αποκαλυψιν των υιων, is revelation of the sons, that is, to the sons: the genitive case in the New Testament often denotes the object. The word ' Αποκαλυψις, should certainly be rendered revelation, as the word αποκαλυφθηναι is rendered revealed in the foregoing verse. See Locke, Whitby, Doddridge, and Grove.


Verse 20

Romans 8:20. Not willingly That is, "Not by any wilful act of their own." The word ' Εκουσα seems here to have the same signification as εκουσιως, wilfully, Hebrews 10:26 or as the word θελοντας, 2 Peter 3:5.—This they are willfully ignorant of. What we render lie not in wait, Exodus 21:13 the LXX render ουκ εκων, not wilfully, in opposition to presumptuously in the next verse. Thus the word εκουσα denotes a criminal choice, and in a high sense too; namely a transgression subjecting to wrath: "The creature was made subject to vanity, not by its own criminal choice,—not by sinning after the similitude of Adam's transgression, ch. Romans 5:14.,—but by reason of, or through him who subjected the same in hope."


Verse 21

Romans 8:21. Because the creature itself, &c.— The creature, or creation itself, is all mankind, whether Christians or not. But this must be understood of mankind as well as of Christians, only so far as by answering the ends of their creation by the secret influences of the Spirit of God, they are prepared for immortality. The creature means mankind, considered as what they ought to be, according to the laws of their creation or rather according to the covenant of grace. See Galatians 6:8.


Verse 22

Romans 8:22. The whole creation groaneth How David groaned under the vanity of this life, may be seen Psalms 89:47-48 which complaint may be met with in some sense and in some degree in every man's mouth: so that even those who have not the first fruits of the Spirit, have uneasy longings after immortality, or of something to make them happy, which this world cannot afford them. It is true, that to be in pangs like a woman in travail, the metaphor here used, sometimes only signifies being in great distress, where there is no reference to any expected birth; but it seems very probable, that the Apostle, in these metaphors, here alludes to what he had been before saying, Romans 8:14; Romans 8:17; Romans 8:19; Romans 8:21. In all which places he describes real believers as the children of God; beautifully representing at the same time the sad condition of those, who, while they had faculties capable through divine gracefor standing in such a relation to God as his children, were lost in darkness and vanity, while ignorant of God, and the way of salvation; during which time they were even pained by the capability of their nature, it having no suitable object to act upon. The reader may observe a well-adjusted gradation from Romans 8:19. The world seems to wait and call, and groan for the spreading of the Gospel; and those among whom it prevails, are still in travail, as it were, with the hope and desire of a yet more exalted state after the resurrection, Romans 8:23. See Locke and Doddridge.


Verse 23

Romans 8:23. And not only they, but ourselves also That this is meant of the Apostles, appears plain from the following reasons: First, But ourselves also,—even we ourselves,—are very emphatical expressions, and direct our thoughts to some persons of distinction and eminence. Secondly, there will be little or no argument in this verse, if it be understood of the whole body of Christians: it will be only telling them what is supposed to be already known,—that they were in a state of affliction, waiting for the future glory. But it is a good argument, if understood of the Apostles, and properly enough advanced after a general survey of the sufferings of mankind: "Look at the world in common,—you see all labouring under sorrows, and in afflictions: look at us Apostles, who are most signally distinguished by the pledges of God's love, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit; even we are not exempted from sufferings; but it is the will of God that we too should remain under the pressures of life, and in a state of expectation." See 2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 5:2. There is an allusion, in the latter part of this verse, to the two kinds of adoption among the Romans; the first of which was private; the second public, in the forum, when the adopted person was solemnly declared and avowed to be the son of the adopter. Compare Luke 20:36. The redemption of our bodies means, their final deliverance from the power of the grave at the general resurrection. See Luke 21:28. Ephesians 1:14. Hebrews 11:35. Doddridge; and Howe's Works, vol. 1: p. 680.


Verse 24

Romans 8:24. Hope that is seen, &c.— That is enjoyed. To see is frequently in Scripture phrase to enjoy. Job 7:7; Job 9:25. Psalms 50:23. Matthew 5:8. John 3:36. Hebrews 12:14. 1 John 3:2.


Verse 25

Romans 8:25. But if we hope for that we see not, &c.— What the Apostle says here of hope, is to shew them, that the groaning of the children of God, before spoken of, was not the groaning of impatience, but such as that wherewith the Spirit of God maketh intercession for us.


Verse 26

Romans 8:26. Likewise the Spirit, &c.— ' Ωσαυτως, likewise, always in the New Testament signifies in like manner, or agreeably to what is mentioned just before.

Here it may be rendered, agreeably to this, namely, to our being saved by hope [or in a course of patient expectation, mentioned in the former verse.]. Dr. Doddridge renders συναντιλαμβανεται, leadeth his helping hand. It literally signifies "the action of one who helps another to raise or bear a burden, by taking hold of it on one side, andlifting it or bearing it with him:" and so it seems to intimate the obligation on us, to exert our little strength, feeble as it is, in concurrence with this Almight


Verse 27

Romans 8:27. Knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit That is, "has a particular regard to, approves, favours, and is pleased with." The phrase here, φρονημα του πνευματος, the mind of the Spirit, is the very same that is used Romans 8:6 and expresses not merely the meaning, but the temper and disposition of the mind, as under the influence of the divine Spirit, pursuing and breathing aftersuch blessings as suit its rational and immortal nature. The word εντυγχανω is also used Romans 8:34. Christ maketh intercession for us; and again ch. Romans 11:2. Hebrews 7:25 and in Acts 25:24 where it is rendered have dealt with me. These are all the places where we find it in the New Testament. The proper import of the word seems to be, to meet and treat with a person, either for or against another; and so it may signify in general to negociate, manage, or transact an affair on the behalf of others, not only by intercession, entreaty, or supplication in their favour, but in any other way as the case may require. So our Lord εντυγχανει υπερ ημων, maketh intercession for us, by negociating and managing, as the friend and agent of his faithful people, all the affairs pertaining to their salvation; and he is able to save us to the uttermost, because he ever liveth, and has all power given him in heaven and earth, as our great Agent, to secure to his faithful saints all the glorious things promised in the Gospel. And the Spirit of God makes intercession for the saints, not by offering supplications to God in their behalf, but by directing and qualifying their supplications in a proper manner by his agony and influences upon their hearts; which is the peculiar work and office of the Holy Spirit. How the Spirit qualifies the secret groanings of true Christians, under the pressures of life, may be seen 2 Corinthians 5:2-5. The Spirit directs and qualifies the secret desires of the saints after immortality, κατα Θεον, according or agreeably to the will of God; therefore God approves the mind of the Spirit, or the dispositions which we gain through the influence and inspiration of the Spirit; and thus the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, and assured to our hearts by the Holy Spirit; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. See Doddridge and Bengelius.


Verse 28

Romans 8:28. And we know, &c.— In the summary which we have given on Romans 8:12 we observed that this is the seventh argument advanced by the Apostle to reconcile Christians to sufferings: "Whatever befals us, supposing we love God, certainly concurs and tends to complete our salvation." The Apostle never once uses the word

κλητοις, called or invited, in his arguments, ch. Romans 2:3 : Romans 4:5 : It is a metaphor taken from inviting guests, or makingthem welcome to a feast; and the word and sentiment would be well understood, if we rendered it invite, rather than call: for to call is never, in English, applied peculiarly to the affair of acquainting a person that his company is desired at an entertainment; but either to bid or invite. The verb καλεω is translated by bid, Matthew 22:3-4. Luke 14:7-8; Luke 14:10. Bid, however, seems to be almost antiquated, and invite is the common mode of expression; though as the word call has been so long in use, one cannot well lay it aside. They are here said to be called or invited of God, according to his purpose, which the Apostle gives as a proof that all things in our present situation are either appointed, or shall be overruled for the happiness of them that love God: thus the clause is to be understood, and thus it is an argument to prove, that all things, how afflictive soever, shall work together for our welfare; but then it must be taken in connection with our loving of God and obedience to him. The Apostle does not pretend to prove that all things shall concur to the everlasting happiness of all that are called or invited; (for many are called, who at last shall not be among the chosen, Matthew 20:16.) but only those of the called who perseveringly love God. Our calling or invitation, thus qualified, is the ground of his argument, which he prosecutes and completes in the two next verses; and this calling he takes for granted, as a thing evident and unquestionable among all professed Christians. But it may be asked, "How is it thus evident that we are called?"—The answer is,—"From our being in the visible church, and professing the faith of the Gospel:" for always, in the apostolic writings, all that are in this visible church and profession, are numbered among the called or invited. As for effectual calling, it is a distinction which divines have invented, without any warrant from Scripture. Our calling therefore is considered by the Apostle in the nature of a self-evident proposition, which nobody doubts or denies, and which indeed no Christian ought to doubt, or call in question. See Ephesians 3:1-11.


Verse 29

Romans 8:29. For whom he did foreknow The particle οτι is connective; and, this verse giving the reason or confirmation of what was spoken in the former, it seems necessary to interpret it thus: Whom he foreknew to be persons called according to his purpose, and therefore qualified for this adoption. It therefore is to be observed, that the words know and foreknow, in the Scripture language, import an affectionate knowledge joined with approbation and affection. So Matthew 7:23. John 10:14. 1 Corinthians 8:3. If any man love God, the same is known of him. Galatians 4:8. But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God. 2 Timothy 2:19. The Lord knoweth them that are his.

He also did predestinate Or, rather, He before appointed, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that, as they had borne the image of the earthly Adam, they might also bear the image of the heavenly, 1 Corinthians 15:49 having glorious bodies like to his, says Theodoret: and this agrees well with the scope and subject-matter of this chapter, and with the following words, That he might be the first-born, or chief, among many brethren; for as here these brethren are said to be co-heirs with him, the Elder-brother, Romans 8:17 so elsewhere he is styled, The First-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, or that they might be changed into his image by the participation of the same Spirit.


Verse 30

Romans 8:30. Them he also glorified These words should be rendered, Them he hath also glorified, by giving them that Spirit who is the earnest of the glory of the faithful, they being blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3 they being quickened together with Christ, and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:5-6. And by reason of this Holy Spirit given, with the preaching of the Gospel, the ministration of justification is said to bein glory, as being the ministration of the Spirit of God,2 Corinthians 3:8-11 and we, by participation of this Spirit of the Lord, are said, not only to behold the glory of the Lord, but also to be changed into the same image from glory to glory, Romans 8:18 of the same chapter. In favour of this interpretation let it be noted, that when the Apostle speaks of our final glorification, he still speaks of it as of a thing future, Romans 8:17-18; Romans 8:21 whereas he here speaks of glorification as of a thing past, saying whom he hath justified, them he hath also glorified. So when a miracle was wrought in Christ's name, God glorified him, Acts 3:13. See Luke 4:15. John 8:54; John 11:4; John 13:31-32; John 14:14. 1 Corinthians 12:26.


Verse 33-34

Romans 8:33-34. Who shall lay any thing to the charge, &c.— Here it is well observed by Mr. Lowth, that these words being read by way of interrogation, as is Romans 8:35 carry a full and clear sense thus: Who shall plead against God's elect? Shall the God who justifies them do it? Who is he that condemns them? Can it be that Christ who died for them?


Verses 35-38

Romans 8:35-38. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? &c.— To answer the argument hence urged, to shew that man cannot fall from grace, because if once they truly loved God, they cannot cease to do so in principle, let it be noted: First, That this inquiry is not, who shall separate us from the love with which we love God; but, who shall separate us who truly love God, and testify that love by our obedience to his commands, John 15:10 and by our patient sufferings for his sake, Romans 8:36-37 from his affections towards us.

The Apostle therefore only intimates, that such persons continuing in the love of God, shall be preserved by him from, or be enabled to overcome, the temptations here mentioned; and be so supported by his grace and Holy Spirit as to be able to triumph ever them. But he does not say, that the love of no believer shall wax cold, Matthew 24:12. Were there no fear of this, why does Christ exhort his disciples to continue in his love, John 15:9.? and his Apostles exhort others to keep themselves in the love of God, Jude 1:21 to continue in the grace of God, Acts 13:43 to look diligently to it, that they fail not of, or that they fall not from (for so it may be rendered) the grace of God, Hebrews 12:15. Note. Secondly, That the Apostle does not say, that nothing shall separate true believers from the love of God or Christ; but only says πεπεισμαι, I am persuaded that nothing will do it; nor have I any cause to fear, that any of these temporal sufferings, or enjoyments, will shake their steadfastness, in expectation of those eternal and inestimable blessings, which God has promised, and Christ has purchased for his church; these light afflictions being not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed, Romans 8:18 and all co-operating for the good of them that love God, Romans 8:28.—that as to the weakness of the flesh which rendered these temptations so dreadful, and gave strength to them, they lived in hopes of a glorious redemption of the body from them, Romans 8:23.; and while they groan under them, they have the assistance of the Spirit of God, to strengthen them, and to help them to bear their infirmities; a powerful and loving Father to be with them, a Saviour exalted to the right hand of God to intercede for them, Romans 8:33-34. Upon all which accounts he might well say, I am persuaded that none of these things shall separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. The Apostle does not by these words intend to teach believers, that they could not be shaken by these things; for this would have contradicted the drift of his Epistles, in which he offers so many arguments and motives to prevent the effect of those temptations, and does so often express his fears, lest they should be shaken with them; and be so far tempted by them, as to be moved away from the hope of the Gospel, Colossians 1:23 and render his labour vain, 1 Thessalonians 3:5. He only intends to say, that upon these considerations, they had such great inducements to persevere, and continue in the love of God, as made him strongly persuaded that they would do so.


Verse 37

Romans 8:37. We are more than conquerors For we not only bear, but glory in tribulations, Romans 5:3. We are in deaths often, but still delivered from death, 2 Corinthians 1:10. And as the sufferings of Christ abound toward us, so doth our consolation, under them, abound through Christ.

Inferences.—The matter set before us in this chapter calls for and deserves very serious examination. Inquiry should determine us, whether we do on the whole walk after the flesh or the spirit, Romans 8:1. If we are sincere in this inquiry, it will make us guard at the same time more and more against that carnal mind, which is enmity against God; and cannot be subject to his law, nor leave room for us to please God, while it presides and governs in us, Romans 8:7. We shall often reflect upon that death, which would be the consequence of our living after the flesh, Romans 8:13.; and never conceive of ourselves upon any occasion as persons who, in consequence of something that has already passed, have found out a way to break the connection here established, and in the nature of things essentially established, between a carnal mind and death. May our spirits be more and more enlivened by that vital union with a Redeemer, which may give us a part in his merits, and in the life it has secured for all faithful souls! and may the efficacy of his Spirit to raise our souls from a death of sin to a life of holiness, be in us a blessed earnest, that he will complete the work, and at length quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in us!

Well may we rejoice in privileges like these before us, (Romans 8:14-17.) and stand astonished to think that they should be bestowed on any of the children of men!—That any of them should be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ;—the adopted children of a heavenly Father, and prepared by the communications of his Spirit for an inheritance so glorious and so dearly purchased!—That any should be fitted and enabled to approach him with that endearing appellation, Abba, Father, in their mouths! O, that every one of us may know by experience, which alone can teach us, how sweet it is to the soul! If we would secure this witness, let us see to it, that we be obediently led by the Spirit of God; for that Spirit is not, where he does not effectually govern; and if any man have not that Spirit of Christ, he is none of Christ's disciples. All the children of God are in a state of grace; and the evidence of the Spirit of God, and our own spirit, may make us certain, where they concur as they ought to do, that we are the children of God. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God, is St. John's rule; and it comprehends both the evidences before explained: (see on Romans 8:16.)

For ever adored be the divine goodness in sending down his Spirit on such sinful creatures, to help our infirmities in the prosecution of this great salvation, to implant and excite graces in our hearts, to be a source of present delights, and of eternal happiness! May we continually feel him helping those infirmities, and so improving our joy in the Lord, that all our devotions may be animated sacrifices!

When we consider the state of those parts of the world, in which Christianity is unknown, or of those among whom it is in general a mere empty form; when we consider the vanity to which that share of God's creation is subject, let it move our compassion, and excite our prayers, that the state of glorious liberty, into which God has already brought such as by faith in Christ are his children, may become more universally prevalent;—that the knowledge of the Lord may cover the earth, as the waters cover the channel of the seas! May his divine grace give a birth to that grand event, in the expectation whereof nature seems in pangs; such a birth, that nations might be born in a day: and where it has taken effect, may it produce a more abundant growth, and more happy increase!

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This chapter opens with a most reviving view of the privileges and experience of every Christian believer, as a contrast to the state of the merely awakened soul, described in the former chapter. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus; being united to him by faith, as their surety and head, the sentence of the law is reversed. They have fled for refuge to the blood of a Redeemer, and enjoy the inestimable blessing of his pardoning love. And they are to be known by their daily conversation, as those who walk not after the flesh, under the dominion of their fallen nature and corrupt affections; but after the Spirit, directed by God's word as their rule, and under the teachings, guidance, and influence of the Holy Ghost, who has implanted a new and divine nature in them. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, even that Gospel which, where truly embraced, operates most powerfully in constraining the conscience by love unto obedience through the quickening influence of the divine Spirit; hath made me free from the law of sin and death, delivering me from the condemning sentence of that law which discovered sin to my conscience, and denounced wrath as the wages due to it; and from the power of corruption, through the grace purchased by the Redeemer's blood. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; because of the corruption of our nature it was impossible that, as a covenant of works, any fallen creature could obtain life and salvation by the law, and it neither provided nor admitted any atonement or expiation for guilt; God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; rescuing the faithful in his infinite grace from the ruin which a broken law, never to be repaired, threatened; and this in a way so transcendantly glorious, even by the incarnation of his coequal Son, who took the human nature, with all its sinless infirmities, and stood in the sinner's stead; and laying upon him the iniquities of us all, God testified, in the sufferings of his own Son for the sin we had committed, the abhorrence that he had of sin, and exacted the punishment due to it from the incarnate Saviour; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who, in virtue of our union with Jesus as our head, walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit: for the Christian believers are not only brought into a new state, but are made partakers of a new and divine nature, which now influences and actuates them in all their conversation. For they that are after the flesh, under the dominion of their native corruption, do mind the things of the flesh; relish, delight in, and pursue the things that are pleasing only to the carnal mind and sensual appetite: but they that are after the Spirit, partakers of his grace, through union with Jesus the living head of vital influence to true believers; they φρονουσιν, understand, are attached to, delight in, and follow the things of the Spirit; both the doctrines that he reveals, the blessings that he bestows, and the services which he enjoins, and for which he enables them.

For to be carnally minded, to live under the dominion of the fallen spirit, governed by lawless passions and sensual appetites, is death; is a present state of spiritual death, and must end in death eternal; but to be spiritually minded, renewed by the Holy Ghost, under the habitual influence of his grace, and supremely and abidingly attached to and engaged in the pursuit of spiritual objects; this is life and peace; it is the proof of the divine life begun in the soul; peace of conscience is the present happy fruit which it produces, and in the faithful soul will issue in eternal peace and blessedness. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, and stands in direct opposition to his perfections and authority, abhorring the government of his providence, and hating the restraints and sanctions of his law: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. There is an absolute impossibility of such a nature's being brought into conformity to the holy will of God; and till a new heart and right spirit be given from above, the enmity must remain inveterate and unsubdued. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God; while they continue in this state, every thing that they do is defiled. So desperate is our condition by nature, till the almighty grace of God works the blessed change in the praying and believing soul, enabling such to walk with and please God.

2nd, With comfort the Apostle addresses the believers at Rome, confident of their interest in the blessed Spirit of all grace. But ye are not in the flesh, under the dominion and influence of the carnal mind; but in the Spirit, being regenerate and born again; if so be, or seeing that, the Spirit of God dwelleth in you, as in his peculiar temple, taking up his abode in your hearts, manifesting there his presence and love, and shewing his powerful agency. But now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, who is the very God from whom, as from the Father, that one Spirit proceeds, and not be renewed by his grace, and under his guidance and influence, he is none of his: whatever his professions may be, he does not belong to Christ as a member of his body mystical; he is not a child of his family, nor a subject of his kingdom, and must be eternally disowned by him and separated from him, if he die in this unregenerate state. And, on the other hand, if Christ be in you, by his Spirit dwelling in your hearts, the body indeed is dead because of sin, and must lie down in the dust; but the spirit, the immortal part, is life, because of righteousness, raised from spiritual death in virtue of the Redeemer's infinite merit. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, being one in essence and cooperation with the Father and the Son, (compare 1 Corinthians 6:14. John 5:28-29.) and concurring in the work of raising the body of Jesus, dwell in you as his temple, he that raised up Christ from the dead, as the pledge of our resurrection, and the first-fruits of them that slept, shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you: the bodies of the saints shall, by the same indwelling almighty power which raised him, be ransomed from the grave, and become immortal and glorious, fashioned like to their exalted Head. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; we have neither obligation nor inducement to follow the cravings of corrupt nature; but, on the contrary, are under every bond of love and duty to live for God, in the daily and habitual mortification of every vile affection: for if ye live after the flesh, the slaves of corruption, ye shall die eternally; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, denying your corrupt affections and sensual appetites, and through the power of the Spirit be conformed to your crucified Lord, ye shall live with him in glory everlasting. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, under his conduct, enlightened, directed, and supported by him, they are the sons of God, made his children by adoption and grace, and bearing in their renewed minds his image and likeness. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, are not under that legal dispensation which brought the conscience into distress and darkness, exacting an obedience that could not be paid; nor under those horrors which on the first discoveries of your danger in a state of unregeneracy, seized on your souls: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption: being admitted by God's grace into that high relation of children, he has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, producing every childlike disposition of filial love, confidence, and delight in him, whereby we are emboldened to approach him with faith and joy, and to cry, Abba, Father, before him. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, shining upon his own work in our souls, and satisfying our consciences that we are the children of God and may take the comfort of that blessed and honourable relation: and, if children by adoption and grace, then are we heirs, interested in all the blessings of the new covenant; and heirs of God, made so by his Spirit, and receiving from him constant divine influences; and joint-heirs with Christ, who is the first-born of many brethren; if so be, that we suffer with him, as we must expect to do in his service, this being more or less the inseparable attendant of it, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; but the issue will be highly to our advantage, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together at the great day of his appearing, when he shall bestow the promised crown upon his faithful saints, and before men and angels acknowledge them as his brethren. And such a prospect makes all our trials light and easy. For I reckon, λογιζομαι, on summing up the account of our loss and gain, that the sufferings of this present time, however acute or continued, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us; but, when placed against the glories of eternity, they appear trivial and momentary, and sink unnoticed as the drop into the boundless ocean. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; which some understand of the Gentile world, and particularly the righteous among them, who, in a comparative point of view, had been made subject to vanity; but now being ourselves rescued from the bondage of corruption, they earnestly expected, as a woman in travail, the happy time, when, by the more abundant outpouring of the Spirit, a more general conversion should be wrought in the earth, and far greater multitudes of lost souls be rescued from the dominion of the wicked one, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Others suppose that the creature, even the whole creation, πασα η κτισις, in general, animate or inanimate, is here by a noble prosopopoeia introduced, as waiting with eager impatience for that blessed alteration which the Gospel will make, when the creatures of God shall be no more abused as they have been, but shall be recovered from their present disordered state, and employed by the sons of God, according to their original design, to exalt their Maker's glory. For the creature was made subject to vanity; the very ground being cursed for man's sin, and all the creatures perverted, through the corruption which is in the human nature, from their original design and use; not willingly, by any choice or tendency of their own, or any sin in them. But by reason of him who hath subjected the same, and by that sin to which Adam was instigated through the malice of the devil, they were involved in the miseries of his fall: not that they should always remain under the dreadful abuses which they suffer; but they rest in hope that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, under which they lie at present, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, restored by them to answer the great end for which they were created. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, under the grievous burden of abuses which the creatures suffer, and longing for deliverance. And not only they, but ourselves also which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, in his present sealing, sanctifying, and comforting operations, the earnests of the eternal felicity provided for the faithful in a better world; even we ourselves, notwithstanding the riches of the grace of which we have been made partakers, yet, groan within ourselves, under the afflictions which still lie heavy upon us till death; waiting for the adoption, when Christ will publicly own the relation that he bears to his saints before men and angels at the great day; to wit, the redemption of our body, when, triumphant over the grave, the faithful shall reach the summit of heavenly felicity; their souls perfected in holiness, their bodies fashioned like to Christ's glorious body, and their whole man shall together be blest with the fruition of God himself as their everlasting portion. For we are saved by hope; though we are not yet in possession of the purchased glory, we hold our title by a strong and divine hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; when the object is possessed, hope ceases: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, expecting shortly perfect deliverance from all our afflictions; then do we with patience wait for it, persuaded that the Lord, in his own good time, will fulfil his promises to all his faithful people, and bring them at last, through all their trials, to the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, which fadeth not away, reserved for them in the heavens. And blessed and happy are all they who thus wait for him.

3rdly, We have not only a glorious hope before us, but have likewise the most reviving supports by the way; for the Spirit of our God, quickening, comforting, strengthening us, helpeth our infirmities, that we may not sink under our burdens, or be discouraged by our trials: having implanted in us the graces of hope and patience, he still supports us in the exercise of them, and particularly in our approaches to God in prayer, if we continue to wait upon him; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; ignorant, and knowing not what is best for us; weak, and unable to express our wants aright: but the Spirit itself, by his gracious suggestions, maketh intercession for us, pouring out a spirit of prayer and supplication upon our hearts, giving us such a sense of our wants, and exciting desires after God so intense and affecting, as words cannot express, which can only be breathed forth with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts, the all-seeing God, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit; though at times our tongue may not form an articulate sound in prayer, God regards and will answer these gracious workings of his Spirit in our hearts, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God, inclining us always to ask according to the mind and will of God, and engaging us humbly to resign ourselves, for an answer to our prayers, in time, manner, and measure, to his good pleasure. And we know, by the assured promises of his word, by the experience of all his saints, and by our own, when thus unreservedly casting our care upon him, that all things work together for good to them that love God; and however dark, and for the time grievous to flesh and blood, the dispensations of Providence may appear, we are now assured, and the faithful saints of God shall hereafter prove, that the circumstances which seemed most afflictive they could not have done without; and that they especially conduced to promote their spiritual and eternal welfare.

4thly, In the view of what God has done, and he himself experienced, the Apostle defies all accusers. What shall we then say to these things? shall we start back from sufferings when the issue to the faithful soul is so glorious? what can we wish or desire more transcendently glorious than these great and precious promises. If God be for us, with infinite wisdom to guide, almighty power to protect, and boundless love to comfort us, who can be against us? what have we to fear from men or devils? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, of his own good pleasure freely gave him to become incarnate, and laid upon him our iniquities; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? what can he now withhold from faithful souls, when, compared with the gift of his Son, every thing beside must appear but little? since he has given him, we may surely conclude that he is willing to add all the rest, and freely enrich his faithful saints with all spiritual and eternal blessings in Christ Jesus. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? be their transgressions never so many, great, and aggravated; it is God that justifieth them; and, since he hath accepted them through the great Atonement, they can plead that perfect atonement which even justice itself must approve: who is he that condemneth? let the law of innocence accuse; yet, since he who hath redeemed us from the curse of the law is our Advocate, there is no condemnation for the faithful soul; for it is Christ that died, he hath paid the ransom; yea, rather that is risen again; God hath testified his full approbation therein of his undertaking, and that his justice is completely satisfied in behalf of the genuine believer; so that we may safely trust upon him, who is even at the right hand of God, exalted to the highest dignity and glory, as a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins; who also maketh intercession for us; our friend in every time of need, and, in the all-prevailing merit of his atonement, pleading effectually the cause of his faithful saints. Note; The views of a dying, risen, ascended, glorified Redeemer, should silence all our fears and doubts, and engage us comfortably and confidently to truce him under all our trials.

2. The Apostle, in the language of faith and fervent love, professes his confidence that, with such a Saviour at the right hand of God, no sufferings should ever separate the souls of the faithful from Christ and his love. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? what shall be able to quench the fervour of his affection towards us his faithful saints, or extinguish the sacred flame which he hath kindled in their bosoms? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, shall all the various ills that flesh is heir to, from sickness, pain, poverty, a malignant world, a tempting devil, shall these separate us from the Redeemer's arms? No: nothing can but wilful sin. That we must suffer, he has foretold us, as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, butchered without remorse by our cruel persecutors, and, for the sake of Jesus, in jeopardy every hour. But do these things move us? Nay: so far from it, that in all these things we are more than conquerors, rising superior to every foe, through him that loved us; whose inward supports and consolations overbalance all our sufferings; and whose power and grace, continually exerted on our behalf, carry his faithful saints triumphantly through their conflicts. For I am persuaded, that neither death, with all its terrors; nor life, with all its allurements; nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers; neither the fiends of darkness, nor the persecuting rulers of the earth; nor things present, the afflictions and temptations now felt; nor things to come, the greater evils which we fear; nor height of prosperity, nor depth of adversity, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: no, not the whole universe; nothing but sin can separate us from him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 8:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/romans-8.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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